Goose Gossage misses the mark with baseball criticisms

Jun 22, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Former New York Yankee Rich Goose Gossage (54) during the Monument Park Ceremony on Old Timers Day at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 22, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Former New York Yankee Rich Goose Gossage (54) during the Monument Park Ceremony on Old Timers Day at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports /

Goose Gossage’s recent tirade against the modern game of baseball reads more like sour grapes than legitimate gripes.

After reading Goose Gossage’s comments about the current state of Major League Baseball, you’ll be surprised that his rant didn’t start with, “Boy, the way Glen Miller played.”

Gossage’s main beef is that the game has changed, in his opinion, for the worse. He blames the rise of statistical analysis, rules to protect the safety of players, restrictions on young pitchers and individual celebrations for creating a version of the game that he dislikes. In simpler terms, Gossage tries his hardest to become the Archie Bunker of baseball.

Much like Bunker, Gossage is wrong on nearly all of his points.

Despite what Gossage’s nostalgic selective memory tells him, teams didn’t just suddenly go from a complete vacuum of all statistical analysis to relying solely on sabremetrics since he retired. Teams in Bunker’s, errr Gossage’s day, used statistical analysis to a smaller extent, but they still used it to make roster and playing time decisions. Additionally, MLB franchises still employ scouts today.

If Gossage is upset that the profession of scouting has taken a serious hit due to the rise of statistical analysis, he has some legitimate beef there. The truth is that it’s never been more difficult to make a living in that career. Asserting that the game has been hijacked by people who only stare at numbers on a spreadsheet and have no familiarity with the game on the diamond, however, is ridiculous.

The flaw in Gossage’s next complaint is the fact that baseball is best when the best are able to play the game. When Buster Posey and Miguel Tejada are healthy and in action, everyone wins. The rules enacted don’t detract from the objective of the game, which is to score more runs than your opponent and record enough defensive outs to end the game.

In much the same vein, Gossage complains about young pitchers being placed on a pitch count, implying that the tactic is inferior to those used during his playing days.

"“They have been created from the top, from their computers,” Gossage said. “They are protecting these kids. The first thing a pitcher does when he comes off the mound is ask: ‘How many pitches do I have?’ If I had asked that f—ing question, they would have said: ‘Son, get your ass out there on that mound. If you get tired, we’ll come and get you.'”"

Gossage is right about one thing here: the teams ARE protecting “these kids.” There are a lot of resources invested in “these kids;” both fans and team personnel want their careers to last a long time.

Several people, including the player himself, are part of making these decisions. It’s a tricky thing to create a balance between preserving the potential for a long, successful career and utilizing the pitcher’s talent to optimize winning in the moment. That requires more strategy than waiting until a player looks gassed and then just hoping he can pitch for years to come.

Gossage goes on to single out Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays for celebrating moments in-game, calling it a disgrace. The truth is that celebrations create iconic memories for fans and remind us that players are in the profession because of their drive and passion. Baseball needs more emotion and excitement on display, not less.

Next: End of the line for Jered Weaver?

The facts dispel Gossage’s claims that baseball was better when he played. Team revenues and player salaries are higher than they have ever been. Attendance is up and TV ratings are rebounding. The game is being marketed across the world. Mr. Bunker, I mean Gossage, THESE are the days.